As we make our way through the last week of summer vacation, I am reflecting on what an incredible summer we’ve had. I won’t say that it flew by; quite the contrary. Trips we took and visitors we hosted in the early weeks seem as if they were a lifetime ago. Lyle’s tantrums feel like perhaps they took place last year. I know, I know, tempis fugit and all – but we have been having a great time and yet it seems that it’s been long: the best of both worlds.
In part it was all the short trips we took – 4 days in Michigan, 4 days in Wisconsin, a long weekend for Matt and the kids in Minnesota, and 4 days for Matt and me in San Francisco. I’m finding that I prefer a few small trips to one long one in the summer. We saw and did so much, spent time with many wonderful people from all over the country, and yet were never gone so long that we had to stop the mail, take many vacation days at work, or worry about whether all the plants would wither and die. Four days is long enough for me to get away and relax but short enough that, wherever we are, the days are action-packed for the kids. Perfection.
It also had to do with the fact that I’ve been home with the boys most of the time this month and that’s been a blast. Being at home focused on the kids, taking them to appointments, running errands, arranging play dates, and running the household is smooth sailing when you’re used to doing that and working full-time. I’ve done some major organizing here at home and look forward to more when the kids go back to school; the house is becoming a more pleasant place to spend my days now that I don’t see piles of paperwork and filing to deal with in every corner. Once that was handled I was able to think about other cosmetic changes that I’ve been wanting to make.
And in large part this summer has been glorious thanks to the boys themselves, who have really hit their stride: they are extraordinarily manageable. Friends tell me I’ve hit the “golden years” of motherhood, when the kids are fun and so much easier. I’m assuming this changes dramatically as they get closer to adolescence so I’m reveling in it. In the past couple of weeks, there have been mornings when I give them breakfast and then don’t hear from them again until almost lunchtime when they’re hungry. They are so independent! This from the boys who have never wanted to go downstairs without me and come to implore me to play with them every ten minutes? Yes, parents out there: there is hope.
They’ll watch a PBS show, read books together, and play “Pokemon battles” down in the playroom. As much as I think I cannot stand another day of hearing about Pokemon, I begrudgingly admit that my life has become so much easier because they are both totally obsessed by it and will play it and talk about it together for hours. Lyle will also sit down and paint or write without asking for help, and get engaged with other little kids in the building and run back and forth between the condo units for hours with his friends. Bliss.
This week I’ve instituted 30-60 minutes of “Mommy School” each morning before lunch, when the boys sit at the table and learn to write the alphabet, drill multiplication/division facts, and practice cursive handwriting, depending on the child. We did very little school work all summer (which was not a good thing for my reluctant writer) but we’re on it now. They don’t mind and we enjoy that time together, too.
I’m going to be home a lot more this year, and don’t think the irony is lost on me that I’m cutting back on my regular work hours just when my younger child is going to full day kindergarten. That’s no mistake and the timing couldn’t be better, with the kids behaving so well. Given how delightful this month has been, I look forward to our after school hours together. And happily, now that I’m with them all the time, there is a total lack of clinginess from Lyle. Last night I was able to tell them that I was going to the grocery store just before they went to bed and there wasn’t a peep of protest – Lyle’s calm acceptance of that fact made me want to swoon.
I don’t know how long it’ll last and it doesn’t really matter. For now, we’ve got a good thing going over here, and I know I will always remember this summer as a wonderful turning point into middle childhood for our family.